Saturday, July 03, 2010

Note to Self--Don't Write 800 Page Memoir

The ghost of West Virginia's Robert Byrd is paying the price for his decision to write an 832 page autobiography. Michael Grunwald of Time read every pompous word--and then savaged Byrd's memory for his trouble.

Here's the most telling bit:

It was only later [after 1964 when Byrd filibustered the Civil Rights Act) that racism became a liability for ambitious Democratic politicians, and it was only later that Byrd became a civil-rights advocate of sorts.

I say "of sorts" because Byrd's 832-page exercise in gasbaggery includes a creepy passage in which he describes white ethnics as "former minorities" who "sought no special status," implicitly contrasting them with modern minorities who "push and shove and demand something for nothing." When Byrd broke the Senate's longevity record, I poked fun at that passage along with others that decried "multiculturalism" and compared cities to "the jungles of Africa." But if Byrd's memoirs suggested some lingering discomfort with diversity, they revealed a much more visceral distaste for modernity, a fierce nostalgia for "the days of my boyhood," when America was great, kids had manners, the funny papers were funny and even Coca-Cola was "a more zestful and invigorating drink."

Uh, yeah — it was made with cocaine back then.

But the bottom line is that Byrd deserved it.

More on Chris Henry and Brain Damage from Football

CNN is carrying a more detailed report concerning the brain damage suffered by the late Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals. Here's a pretty clear summary of the Chris Henry problem.

Doctors found evidence of brain damage, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, that has been observed in retired players who've had many concussions. Unlike those older players, Henry was 26 when he died.

Later in the article, one researcher in the area cautions that no causal link has been established between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and concussions from football. Establishing a causal link would probably be difficult because it would involve nailing down the chemistry by which concussions and recovery from concussions would result in the accumulation of Tau proteins involved in CTE.

Still, there are a number of cases of older former football players suffering from CTE. The main question is how Chris Henry's playing professional football might have resulted in early onset CTE.

What makes Henry's case especially ominous is that he played wide receiver rather than one of the "head-knocking positions" in football. At most, wide receivers would only get hit eight to ten times a game and might not get hit at all. play. To the contrary, offensive and defensive linemen can be seen as using their heads on almost every play--every running play anyway. They don't just use their heads in games either. Any kind of scrimmage or full-contact blocking drill would involve head use by linemen. The same with linebackers.

The big physical safeties use their heads as battering rams. Running backs and quarterbacks take a lot of hits to the head as well.

Football's a brutal game.

However, Wide receivers don't have passes thrown to them on most plays and therefore aren't being subject to being tackled on most plays. Likewise, where wide receivers are most susceptible to head injuries is catches over the middle of the field and my understanding is that Chris Henry was not primarily a middle of the field receiver. So, Chris Henry would have been even less likely to suffere concussions than other wide receivers.

As a result, the fact that Henry had early onset brain damage is very disturbing and raises the question of whether the game itself has become dangerous in a systematic way.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

I'm already starting to see campaign footage with Republican candidates and "conservative Christians" out on the firing range. But isn't there some video of Jesus with a machine gun?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Maybe the Knicks Should Just Kidnap Lebron

Otherwise, he's probably be more likely to sign with one of the local rec teams in Akron or any of the thousands of other basketball teams in the United States that have more talent than the Knicks.

Brain Damage from Football Starts Early

It appears that Chris Henry, bad boy receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, had pretty advanced brain damage from hits to his head even though he was only 26.

Among other things, this makes me glad I didn't have any sons. I had at least three concussions while playing high school football and basketball myself.

Death of Robert Byrd

Robert Byrd, the senior Senator from West Virginia, died last night. Byrd was known for his incredible endurance as a member of the Senate more than anything else. He was exactly a legislative dynamo like Ted Kennedy, but he did have his moments--his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq being the most prominent.

A Pre-Written Headline on Obama

The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper in a minor soccer playing island on the edge of the European continent, has a headline saying that Obama's firing of Gen. McChrystal "shows weakness." Of course, they would have had the same headline if Obama had kept McChrystal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friedrich Engels Revisited

This looks like an interesting restatement of Engels classic thesis on the origins of the family and marriage-- Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.

More Mistress Troubles on the Right

Mel Gibson has joined the long list of prominent conservatives with mistress troubles.

Legal representatives for Oksana Grigorieva - the mother of the actor's eight-month-old daughter Lucia - attended an emergency hearing at a Los Angeles court, where the judge was told the Braveheart star had been "extremely violent" towards his former partner.
At least I think it's Mel Gibson. Gibson, Mark Sanford, Jon Ensign, David Vitter, Mark Souder--the names all tend to blur together. And it's not like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh won't start collecting new mistresses now that they've both remarried for the 5,000th time.

The main difference between Gibson and the other philandering conservatives is that Oksana Grigorieva is complaining about physical and emotional abuse rather than the run-of-the-mill mistress stuff of not getting enough attention.

Well, what to say. I'm not going to call Gibson a hypocrite. That's as obvious as calling him an Australian or saying that the Pope doesn't like women and gay people.

Besides, conservatives have a decent response when they say that their moral standards are valid despite the fact that so many conservative guys have mistresses.

In exchange for my generosity on this issue, I would like conservatives to agree that feminists and other liberals have been absolutely right in their uncompromising condemnations of domestic violence.

In this case, political correctness has been an absolute benefit to society.

Who says we can't all come together?

Obama's Image Problem

Obama's image problem boils down to this.

"In Your Face" leadership responds to everything and doesn't accomplish much other than mobilizing opponents. George Bush is testimony to that.

But "In Your Face" is addicting.

People on the left want it just as much as people on the right.

HuffPost wants it just as much as Sarah Palin.

In that context, Obama's "Not In Your Face" leadership looks like "unengaged" and the right is beginning to pounce on it.